Rock Island Auction Kicks Off Year in Style

John Ulrich engraved Winchester 1866. Photo: Rock Island Auction
John Ulrich engraved Winchester 1866. Photo: Rock Island Auction

RIA's first four-day auction in its history had a slew of intriguing firearms cross the block. But the one to steal the show was a Winchester rifle, engraved by one of the 19th-century masters.

In the realm of 19th Century firearms engraving, few name carry the weight of the Ulrich brothers. This was a point driven further home recently at the Rock Island Auction Company.

One of the top drawing items of the Illinois auction house’s first event of the 2015 staged Feb. 19-22, was a beautiful specimen of John Ulrich’s work. The silver-plated Winchester Model 1866 rifle, complete with a factory letter of authentication, drew one of the top bids of the historic event.

The lever-action featuring magnificent scroll work surrounding an elk on the left side panel crossed the block for $28,875. But it was not the only classic American firearm to demand top dollar at RIA’s first ever four-day event.

When everything was said and done, the company had moved $5.6 million in firearms, firearms accessories and military collectables.

Civil War Henry Rifle. Photo: Rock Island Auction
Civil War Henry Rifle. Photo: Rock Island Auction

Early in the auction, a Civil War Henry Rifle drew a winning bid of $25,875. Manufactured in 1864, the .44 caliber rimfire was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company and was of a vintage to have perhaps seen action in the American Civil War.

As a sidenote on Henry rifles, while the U.S. Army did buy a number of them, few were ever issued. The soldiers themselves privately purchased most, many with money from reenlistment bounties, according to some sources.

While not commanding as high a price as the lever-actions, another American icon did catch plenty of eyes. A gold-finished Thompson 1927A1, or Tommy Gun, initiated a fierce bidding war before finally being captured for $5,175. The rather flamboyant firearm came with all the accouterments, including 50-round drum magazine and violin carrying case.

Gold-finished Thompson 1927A1. Photo: Rock Island Auction
Gold-finished Thompson 1927A1. Photo: Rock Island Auction

Of the pistols RIA moved at the auction, a pair of Colt Diamondback revolvers far exceeded their estimated price. The double-action handguns, chambered in .22 Long Rifle, found a new home for the princely sum of $4,025.

It was a Borchardt C-93, however that turned out to be the bell of the ball for handguns. The Ludwig Loewe semi-automatic pistol commanded a $10,925 sale price, nearly $3,500 more than expected.

The C-93 was a particularly desirable example given the toggle-lock pistol's (chambered 7.63x25mm Borchardt) serial number. With just three digits, the pistol was certainly one of the early one to roll off the Ludwig Loewe line.

Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle. Photo: Rock Island Auction
Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle. Photo: Rock Island Auction

RIA also moved some obscure – at least by modern standards – firearms. In this category, a Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle took the cake, exiting the door for $12,650. The company also moved a U.S. Ordnance semi-auto replica Vickers Machine gun with tripod and accessories for $7,475.

There were also a number of knives and artifacts that came across the block, including: Nazi-style daggers ($8,625), German dagger and sword accouterments ($8,625) and a flintlock pistol axe combination ($5,462).

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